Friday, February 25, 2011

The good bug

RIP GuoGuo. We inherited you along with the fishtank, one goldfish, one blue beta, and two orange bubs. Unlike the fish, you lived in a tiny bamboo cage with a water dish half the size of a short thimble. You disliked cabbage, loved spinach and rice, and hated getting wet. So I kept the water tepid and slow when I washed your cage.

Your first owners, the Swansons couldn't take you back to America. They used to take you out and let you survey your world from the edge of a computer screen. You liked the hum and warmth and chirped cheerfully. But I was less skilled at retrieving you and kept you inside the cage close by the radiator where you satisfied your curiosity in hanging upside down or stretching out your spindly legs through the thin bars where maybe they felt the breeze of our breath has we read Aesop's Fables and poems from Robert Frost. You ate your breakfast while the girls did math and I got lost in the movements of your mandibles.

Your iridescent green began to change, day by day as the temperature outside dropped farther and farther below freezing. Your chirps would miss a beat, become hoarse, or forgetful. Last week, your armored green blackened like old spinach leaves dried and withered and one day I found you praying. Your body barely stood and attention but your head was down and flat - prostrated on the bottom of your bamboo cage. So still you prayed I thought you died. You no longer climbed the cage in frantic bursts of energy when I rinsed it out. You let the water run under you. You moved in slow scuffles like the old man on his way to the morning market. You did not eat. Your strong legs began to buckle and finally, you did not chirp but once in the day before you died.

"Mom's bug died," the girls told their dad when he came home for dinner. They buried him beneath the rose bushes with his thimble-sized water dish. That night, even my husband missed the ritual act of placing him by the window to keep him quiet. And lest you laugh at a eulogy for a bug, may I remind you of your childhood?
Where were you when Jiminy Cricket, the conscience of Pinocchio, faithfully brought the puppet home? Or when Chester the cricket was in Time's Square? Did you not witness Cri-kee, loyal friend of Mulan? That God said everything that creeps on the ground is good? Or did you not know, as Charles Dickens did in "Cricket on the Hearth" that "to find a cricket on the hearth is the luckiest thing of all?"

1 comment:

Darin Swanson said...

He lived a good life!